Most people don't think “light” when they think of diesels. In the US, especially, the word “diesel” is almost synonymous with dually pickups and farm equipment. That's changing, of course, with cars like the TDI Volkswagens. Even within enthusiast circles, though, diesel engines still conjure up images of cast-iron engine blocks weighing hundreds of pounds more than their all-aluminum gasoline counterparts … which is a really long way to go for “there aren't a lot of diesel aircraft engines”.
Still, there aren't a lot of diesel aircraft engines – and for exactly that reason. Diesels are traditionally
heavy robust, in order to handle the rigors of long-term, high-boost, high-compression running.
Now, the Austro Engine company is joining forces with Steyr to build a new, lightweight, diesel aircraft engine based on the Steyr M1 marine engine. The new six-cylinder diesel will bump the M1′s output by 110 hp. Diamond Aircraft’s new DA50 (pictured, above) will be the first aircraft to use the new engine – which will be followed up with a twin-engined diesel in the coming months.
Diamond expects the diesel-powered DA50 will be available to customers by the end of the year.